Linn County, in the heart of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, is more than just a great place to hike, bike, fish and otherwise enjoy our lakes, rivers and mountains. It’s an incredible place to visit to enjoy some exciting and sometimes unique sports events.
Willamette Speedway in Lebanon offers weekly racing – weather permitting – from April through September. The third-mile clay dirt track hosts regular Saturday night racing featuring 100 cars in the Sportsman, Classic Sportsman, Modified and Outlaw Dirt Late Models divisions. Willamette Speedway also hosts both the ASCS (Formerly NSCS/NST) Tour and Gene Romero Flat Track Motorcycles in 2011, DAA NW Extreme Late Model Series plus Tuff Trucks, Trash Cars and Kart racing.
Cyclists from all over Oregon convene on Lebanon High School in early June for this event, hosted by Santiam Spokes Bicycling Club, which has been held for more than 20 years. Four different courses are available: a 13 mile family ride, a 53 mile ride, a 72 mile ride and a 101 mile ride. The rides traverse rural and scenic portions of the central Willamette Valley – all fully supported with food and water stops. All riders who finish before 5 p.m. get a fresh strawberry dessert after their ride.
Motocross and Flat Track Racing
Albany Motorsports Park outside of Albany offers motocross, sand drag and flat track racing for dirt bikes, quads, karts and lawn mowers. The facility also offers outdoor arenacross events. Ryan Leach 541-908-3501
The number of fun runs has increased notably in Linn County in recent years, with at least two or three held in each of the larger communities in the last year. The longest-lived of these is the Strawberry Festival 5K, held the first Saturday in June in Lebanon, but others, ranging from a mile to a half-marathon in length, are held with varying degrees of promotion. The best way to find these is to do a key-word location search on the Internet or call the local chamber of commerce.
Sprint Boat Racing
The United States Sprint Boat Association Racing Series includes two stops Field of Dreams sprint boat track located in Tangent, off I-5 and five miles south of Albany. Using NASCAR-style American V-8 power plants, the participants race 13-foot aluminum-hulled boats around a 20-30 turn, water-filled 12- to 18-foot-wide track at speeds up to 90 mph. The Tangent track is the biggest and longest of the series, so boats can run for quite some time at their top speeds. The schedule varies but the two race days in Tangent are generally held in early and late July.
Swimming and Water Polo
Master’s Distance Swimming
Held in late June or early July as part of the Cascade Lakes Open Water Series hosted by Central Oregon Masters Aquatics, these masters-level open-water swimming events are held at Lewis Creek Park on Foster Lake, just east of Sweet Home. Distances vary from year to year. Camping options are conveniently located nearby at three area public campgrounds and a variety of private RV parks.
Open Water Polo Tournament
Held in early July, this tournament takes place at Lewis Creek Park on Foster Lake, just east of Sweet Home, where full-sized open-water water polo courts are set up between docks at the lake’s edge. The occasional wakes and mild wind-whipped waves on the surface make competition a little more exciting and fun, according to participants. Camping is provided on-site and other camping and RV facilities are located within a mile. The event is hosted by Willamette Valley Water Polo Club.
Albany Sprint Triathlon and Duathlon
Hosted in late April by Albany Aquatics Association, these events start and end at South Albany Community Pool, at South Albany High School, with swims taking place in the pool.
Lebanon Sprint Triathlon
A true sprint (quarter-mile swim) triathlon, this one starts at the Lebanon Community Pool at Lebanon High School, and is held in early May.
Best in the West Triathlon Series
This two-day event, held at Lewis Creek Park on Foster Lake, just east of Sweet Home, features sprint, Olympic-format and half-Ironman triathlon competitions. Held the second Saturday and Sunday in September, the swims take place in the mild-temperature waters of Foster Lake, followed by cycle legs and runs on surrounding forested and farming-area country roads. Camping options are conveniently located nearby at three area public campgrounds and a variety of private RV parks.